Company policies are a necessary part of running a business. There’s no way around it, even if you try to dress them up with fun training videos, colorful posters in the break room or pithy one-liners such as Google’s “don’t be evil” adage. At the end of the day, your policies still need to be effective agents of change, of communicating your company’s vision and advancing your objectives. Whether you realize it or not, you already have a policy management process in place to accomplish these aims. The question is whether or not it’s effective.
The secret to effective policy management are your employees. Policy management shouldn’t be a means of making employees be more compliant as governed by the applicable laws and regulations. It simply never works that way. Instead, employees should be the guiding force behind your policy management activities. Each step of an effective policy management process should consider the behavior, culture, opinions and needs of employees at every level.
Effective Policy Management: A Step-By-Step Breakdown
For each stage of policy management, let’s break down how the process should be constructed and carried out, taking your employees into consideration.
At the very start of the policy management lifecycle when you’ve decided you need to create a new policy, there are so many possibilities and directions you can go in. You need to consult with your legal experts and internal auditors, but at the same time, if you only take their feedback into consideration, the resulting policy won’t be as successful. Rarely do lawyers consider how to best promote positive changes in employee behavior. Meeting regulatory compliance is no doubt important, but without sufficient focus given to employee engagement, you’ll have a policy full of technical and legal jargon that nobody understands much less follows.
What can you do? You want a policy that addresses the real behaviors of real workers. When you put together your policy committee, make sure it includes real workers who can reflect on employee behaviors and brainstorm ways to implement changes where they’re needed.
What is the point of dedicating time and resources to create a policy if the document is never effectively distributed and read? You could’ve created the perfect policy, but it’s only as effective as your distribution efforts. Successful distribution means that every worker is aware of the standards, procedures and guidelines defined in your policy and carries them out in the course of their job duties.
To ensure a smooth and uninterrupted distribution process, the technology you use is only part of the equation. After a document is sent out to personnel, managers must be prepared to follow up with a systematic and proactive approach that sees the policy fully realized in their teams and departments. To that end, meetings, briefings and discussions about new policies will help improve communication of policy guidelines and procedures. Peer-to-peer communication will also encourage new rules to more easily become part of the status quo.
What can you do? It should be the responsibility of senior policy managers to develop and orchestrate a process for policy distribution to staff. If you publish a policy by adding it to a handbook that few employees are likely to read, then you aren’t likely to have a successful policy. Distribute new policies in a way so that everyone has the opportunity to read it, and inform employees of new requirements as often as possible.
If one of your central goals for effective policy management is compliance, well that ultimately rests on the shoulders of your employees and how well they interpret policies and procedures. These days, you require more than simple acknowledgement from workers, you need to be able to measure comprehension in order to determine policy effectiveness. Policy quizzes are a reliable way to test employees’ level of understanding and figure out if they have grasped the principles and ideas of your company policy.
What can you do? For each new policy you publish, develop quizzes that will help you quantify comprehension. Keep in mind that this is ultimately testing how well your policy management processes have communicated a policy’s purpose and goals to staff thus far. Be sure there is a process in place to manage the collection of this data, as well. Finally, don’t wait too long to assess comprehension. Gather responses as soon as possible after a policy has been distributed.
The processes that must be in place to ensure effective policy management can be difficult to justify without proper reporting to point to. At the conclusion of a cycle, you should review all of the steps completed thus far and evaluate success. Of course, this demands that you define what success means for your policy management process. Some metrics to consider when analyzing policy management effectiveness:
- How involved were employees in the creation of the policy? Did you seek out and receive helpful feedback?
- How many individuals did you ultimately distribute the policy to? How many of these individuals acknowledged receiving it?
- How well did employees comprehend the content of the policy? Was its purpose and goals successfully communicated?
- Have these new guidelines been adopted in the workplace? Has employee behavior changed as a result of developing this policy?
What can you do? Utilize a policy management software that will centralize your efforts and streamline reporting.
Effective Policy Management Ends With ComplianceBridge
ComplianceBridge from ComplianceBridge is a comprehensive policy and procedure management platform built for companies and organizations ready to commit to a more structured and responsible approach to compliance. We help you manage the entire process – from policy creation to distribution and reporting – and give you an enormous amount of flexibility to tailor the software for your needs.
Automated workflows, notifications, reminders and rerports streamline policy activities. Configuration of policy quizzes is simple, giving you the freedom to build your question sets to best address the material. Helpful tools such as automatic review dates, version management, approval staging and access control help you manage the process more effectively. Custom reports can be created and run at any time.
ComplianceBridge is a complete solution to your policy management needs. In addition to improving your company’s policy management activities, it makes it easier for employees to access and read policies and procedures, no matter where they are. Your journey to more effective policy management begins today by requesting a demo with ComplianceBridge.